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Papa’s lap (06/18/2006)
By Janet Lewis Burns

"Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't." - Richard Bach

With the birth of children grandpas evolve. Today we honor fathers, not to slight those Baby Boomers who have mellowed from roles of disciplinarians and masters of their own domains to sappy, loving, mischievous, and proud grandfathers.

They have become generous with their time, deep pockets, and ample laps to nestle in any time a grandchild seeks refuge. I suppose you could say that "once a grandpa, always a pushover." Oops, sorry!

Families can be a curse or a blessing, imparting security as well as grief. All of our lives we seek their approval or struggle to escape their influence and interference, we respect them and sometimes are ashamed of them. Families are magnets that embrace who we are, or become barriers that drive us away. (Granddads aim to please!)

Living with a doting grandpa has its perplexing moments. At times it seems like he's just one of the kids, giggling about putting something over on Grandma. He sure is more patient and permissive than we was with our own three rambunctious offspring!

It doesn't seem to bother him when Alyssa and Ally get out my makeup bag to primp and preen, leaving their marks behind, or if Sam gets a game of kickball going in the living room. When all three play "office" down by my desk and computer center my blood pressure kicks up a notch. The mellow man-of-the-hour sets me straight with a gruff "they aren't hurting anything!"

As I update our picture albums it becomes quite evident that I'm the one who always says "cheese!" Many snapshots of our grandkids from baby on find them cradled, and otherwise content or cutting-up in Grandpa's lap.

I have big shoulders; I'm willing to share our little bundles of energy with the other half. Besides, there are those special things that only Papa can give them: golf cart rides, pontoon boat cruises up at the lake, lessons in tomfoolery, and a generous lap, for sleepyheads, heart-to-heart talks, and game plans.

"Grandfather" began as "Father" years back. Now, as mirrors inform him that he's graduated to the elderly "generation ZZZ," and looking the part, he doesn't feel that way inside. He's come alive with the vigor of spry, curious, loving youth in his life!

So much joy was overlooked while his family was growing up. It seems to him like a lifetime has passed since tiny fingerprints were an eyesore and slamming the screen door an annoyance, when Dad's toolbox was raided, and swift, sticky kisses and elephant tears were common, everyday occurrences.

That's when the mirror mocks him, "I told you so." But that doesn't matter Grandpa...as long as your broadest smiles and sheltering lap always welcome the children "home"...the grown-up ones too!

I remember you, Dad Lewis, how you cherished your firstborn Kelly, your first granddaughter. You took her shopping in Winona's dime stores and she came home with adorable little girl outfits, cuddly toys, and candy. It was so heartwarming, like being your little girl all over again...

...your soft, adoring smile and twinkling brown eyes aglow with big dreams and hopes for me, but I had outgrown your coddling. Besides, one lap can only hold so much.

Once a grandpa, always a refuge. The richest pleasures of life to you all.

Janet Burns is a Lewiston native. She can be reached at: patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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